Why I'm not an Groupist

I was talking before on irc about how good it is to get different kinds of people involved in the Ubuntu and FOSS communities. The more perspectives involved the better those perspectives will served.

It’s like the problem we have with Video Editors, we won’t get a good video editor until the people who use video editors for their jobs get involved. Those good folks at Inkscape took Sodipodi and made it into a world class vector editor and out of that has developed the young community of ubuntu using vector artists like my friend Mimloy.

But as well as giving a nod to the differences in various social groups, how do I square that with my belife that everyone is fundamentally equal?

I remember a genetic study done on the differences between the black and white races and what the conclusions were: “There is a greater genetic diversity between individuals than there is between the so called races”. Think about this a second, it means that between you and any one random person out there, there is a greater divergence of genetics than there is _on average_ between your so called race and someone else’s.

I think this same idea is relevant to social groups as well. Because when I see communities or candid groups of people who are marked out because of their socially imposed classification1 or self imposed society2, I see people with very wide set of beliefs, thoughts, skills and feelings. The differences between say women and men on average are much smaller than the differences between any two single people.

Do You Wear a Green or Purple Sash?

Don’t you see, social groups are like background noise; they tell you almost nothing about the people you’re dealing with and aren’t really reliable except perhaps where the view is incredibly narrowly focused on single issues and the grouping is self imposed. It’s much more productive to treat people as people first.

Although it’s too easy to make generalised sweeping statements against entire groups of people, they are almost always going to be dead wrong. Women are people, the disabled are people, all human “races” are people and well, best to just forget all those groupings in most situations.

1 Like women, men, blacks, whites, the deaf, those who wear glasses or who have blue eyes.
2 Like those who use emacs or are programmers or in some regards the political parties of a country.